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Fresh debate surrounds bid to fill Supreme Court vacancy left by Ginsburg

Mourners pay their respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC on September 24, 2020. (AFP)

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has led to a fierce political battle over who will fill the vacancy, a life-long position, weeks ahead of the presidential election.

President Donald Trump has promised to announce his pick in a week, and the Senate majority leader has vowed a swift vote of confirmation.

Democrats, however, argue that their rivals are not honoring the precedent set in 2016 by Republican Senators.

US Supreme Court Vacancy

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior liberal Justice in the U-S Supreme Court, has kicked off a fierce political battle over who will fill the vacancy, weeks ahead of the presidential election.

The Supreme Court is mainly tasked with interpreting the U-S constitution and identifying and passing rulings on matters that would violate it. That makes the role of Associate Justices who have lifetime tenure very significant, as their opinions on various matters of dispute in the country can have effects that would last for generations.

Ginsburg served as a justice for over 27 years. She was best known for her fight for women’s reproductive rights, gender equality and other progressive causes. Last week, she died of complications related to metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home at the age of 87.

Before her death, the Supreme Court consisted of 5 conservative and 4 liberal Justices. Now, the vacant seat provides a rare opportunity for the conservatives to secure a more dominant majority in the court.

First of all he wants to make it a political issue during the campaign, because he thinks it'll benefit him. Trump is ideologically very aggressive, and therefore he wants to make this issue which will rally his supporters. So that's one reason. Another reason is if the election winds up in the courts, which is very possible. He would want to have an ally on the top court. And that's why the second reason why he wants to appoint a pro republican judge.

Daniel Lazare, Journalist and Author

She must have anticipated what was about to come. Days before her death, Ginsburg dictated to her granddaughter that she demanded the nomination for her successor to be put off until a new president enters the White House.

But the majority leader in the Republican-dominated Senate, Mitch McConnell, pledged to get U-S President Donald Trump a swift vote for his Supreme Court pick.

The suggestion has sparked outrage among Democrats who recall that the Senate refused to fill the Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 until after the presidential election. Former President Barak Obama had picked his nomination back in March, almost 10 months ahead of the vote.

Donald Trump says he will put forward a female nominee within a week to fill in the Supreme Court vacancy. The tight timeline is expected to push Trump’s fellow Republican Senators to vote on his pick. Republicans only need a majority of 51 votes to confirm the nominee as the new Justice. Given that they now hold a majority of 53, it is likely that the president’s pick will be accepted.

Should this happen, President Trump would become the first US president after Richard Nixon to appoint 3 justices during his first term in office.

What’s the rush to vote on his third nominee this close to the Election Day? Are the Republicans nervous that Trump can’t win his second term?

Set a precedent, ignore the precedent, and set another precedent.

The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, has called on the Senate to wait until after the November election to confirm Ginsburg’s replacement, a precedent the Republicans set back in 2016.

If Donald Trump wins the election, the Senate should move on his selection weigh the nominee chooses fairly. If I win this election, Presidents Trump's nominee should be withdrawn. As a new president, I should be the one who nominates Justice Ginsburg's successor.

Joe Biden, U.S. Presidential Candidate

Mitch McConnell blocked Barack Obama from filling a court vacancy in March 2016, arguing that the window of time was too narrow and saying the slot had to be held for the next president to fill. No Senate leader had ever before asserted the right to block a vote on a president’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Both of Trump’s Supreme Court appointments, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, replaced justices appointed by fellow Republican presidents. But by replacing Ginsburg, who was appointed in 1993 by Bill Clinton, Trump could decisively skew the ideological balance of the court for decades.

Trump wants a pro-republican court, which will benefit him in countless ways, but certainly if the election winds up in the courts hands ,then it's all the more important to have to have a, a conservative dominated court, which will decide in his favour, or may be more likely to decide in his favour.

Daniel Lazare, Journalist and Author

Democratic Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer, told Senate Democrats in a conference call on Saturday that if the Republican Senators move forward with the vote, then “nothing is off the table” for next year. Democrats are now suggesting that they can retaliate by expanding the Court.

The past Supreme Court nominations have taken some 80 days on average to confirm. With about 40-days until the Election Day, can Trump set a new record?


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